POLICE and soldiers stormed Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) parliament on Tuesday, smashing windows and assaulting security guards, in protest over unpaid bonuses related to the Apec Summit that ended on Sunday.
“A group of policemen and soldiers are outside the parliament and demanding their Apec allowances,” PNG police spokesman Dominic Kakas told AFP. He said that other police were “dealing with it.”
No-one was known to be hurt, Kakas said, adding that he did not yet know how many police and soldiers were involved in the incident in the nation’s capital Port Moresby.
Papua New Guinea National Parliament was attack by Police and Defense Force today. pic.twitter.com/vLfOblPE43
— Reuben Mete (@Reuben_Mete) November 20, 2018
The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Summit gathered 21 regional leaders to the impoverished nation. Despite being the poorest country in Apec, PNG’s government put on a lavish display, even buying 40 Maserati cars to ferry delegates around for the three-day event.
Dignitaries were housed in five-star holiday cruise liners moored in the capital due to security concerns with staying on the mainland.
Locals expressed anger at the excessive spending as the country battles an ongoing outbreak of polio and 40 percent of the population live below the poverty line of US$1.25 a day. In the weeks leading up to the summit, there were two nationwide strikes in protest to the spending.
Following today’s drama at Parliament, I pray for peaceful expression of democracy, for the elected Leaders of #PNG [and the appointed leadership of the Military / Police] to walk in wisdom laying aside selfishness. I pray for justice and for societal change in #PapuaNewGuinea. pic.twitter.com/WNMsuC3fyo
— Rev. Stephen M Leach (@revstephenleach) November 20, 2018
Images posted on Twitter show smashed windows and upturned furniture. Pictures were torn off the walls and doors pulled from their hinges.
Opposition parliamentarian Allan Bird told Guardian Australia he and other opposition MPs were in a locked conference room when they heard the group.
“We heard them coming in, you could hear them smashing things – the glass entryways, a few vehicles on the way in,” he said.
Scenes from parliament after police and armed forces reportedly stormed PNG National Parliament and destroyed property due to grievances regarding APEC allowances. Source: Bryan Kramer MP/Facebook#PapuaNewGuinea pic.twitter.com/7PZcDQYOZk
— Josie Harvey (@JosieHarvey_) November 20, 2018
“I understand some of the parliament security guards were assaulted, a few ministers may have also been assaulted. I think the [group] were mostly targeting ministers, but anyone who got in their way was roughed up.”
The media was reportedly allowed access to the building on Tuesday afternoon where Prime Minister Peter O’Neill was holding emergency meetings to address the issue.